Alabama Fishing License: The Complete Guide

Jan 18, 2023 | 6 minute read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Alabama is known for its diverse opportunities in freshwater and saltwater fishing. From its rivers and lakes to the waters of the Gulf and Mobile Bay, Alabama is a haven for all types of anglers. But before you grab your rod and reel, you’re going to need an Alabama fishing license.

Fortunately, the process of getting a license is quick, easy, and hassle-free. This blog will cover everything you need to know, so you can enjoy a fun day of fishing in the “Heart of Dixie!”

Looking for info on neighboring states, or around the US in general? Check out our full list of licensing guides here.

Who needs an Alabama fishing license?

Everyone between the age of 16 and 65 needs to purchase a fishing license in Alabama. The licenses are a little different depending on whether you’re a resident or not, but both groups will need a permit regardless.

To be considered an Alabama resident, you must declare Alabama as your only state of residence. This means you shouldn’t have a valid driver’s license from any other state.

If you’re a non-resident and over 16, you’ll need to purchase a license.

Who’s exempt?

Anyone under the age of 16 is exempt from needing an Alabama fishing license. The same goes for state residents over the age of 65. But that’s not all. There are a few more cases in which you won’t need a license.

If you’re an Alabama resident fishing from a local bank in your county, there’s no need for a license. All you need is proof of residency, and you’re set. Also, Alabama residents visiting home on military leave are exempt from having to pay for a license.

You also don’t need to buy a license if you’re fishing with an Alabama saltwater guide or charter. If you’re fishing in freshwater, you’ll need to buy a license regardless of whether you’re alone or with a guide service.

Last but not least, non-resident college students between the ages of 17 and 23 can obtain a residency exception from their local probate office, license commissioner, marine resource office, or any authorized outdoor recreation office. This will allow them to buy a special license for the same price as a resident.

What if I’m on a charter boat?

Almost a dozen Alabama saltwater fishing charter boats parked next to one another.

If you’re planning to hop on an Alabama saltwater charter, no need to worry, your license is covered by the boat. Charters, headboats, and saltwater fishing guides are all required to have a boat license that covers everyone on board.

If you’re fishing with a freshwater guide, however, you will need to purchase a fishing license beforehand. Keep reading to find out where and how to go about getting one.

How much is an Alabama fishing license?

The cost of an Alabama fishing license depends on several different factors. Alabama residents can purchase their licenses at a lower rate than non-residents. There are also discounts available for disabled individuals and disabled military veterans.

Here’s a short breakdown of what residents and non-residents should expect to pay:

License Type Duration Resident Cost Nonresident Cost
Freshwater Annual

7 Days


Saltwater Annual

7 Days


Public Fishing Lakes
Daily Fishing License

1 Day


Freshwater Fishing
Family Trip License
(up to 4 additional
family members)
3 Days N/A $30.70
Family Trip License
(up to 4 additional
family members)

7 Days



If you’re spearfishing, keep in mind that you’ll need the appropriate sportfishing license (freshwater or saltwater) in addition to your spearfishing license. There’s also a surcharge for some licenses for residents of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Discounted Licenses

The table below shows the prices for residents and non-residents who are either partially or totally disabled, including military veterans:

License Type Duration Cost for Resident Cost for Non-Resident
Physically Disabled
Saltwater Fishing
Event (up to 20
disabled guests)
3 Days $100 $100
Disabled Freshwater
Fishing License
(totally disabled)
Annual $3.05 N/A
Disabled Saltwater
Fishing License
(totally disabled)
Annual $3.05 N/A
Veteran’s Appreciation
(20% disabled
or more)
Freshwater License
Annual $3.15 N/A

If you’re a non-resident member of the military stationed in Alabama, you too can get a discount on your fishing license. Just visit your local probate office, license commissioner, marine resource office, or any authorized outdoor recreation office and bring a copy of your orders of assignment to Alabama.

You’ll get your Military Residency Exception from one of these locations and you’ll be ready to start fishing in no time!

All proceedings from Alabama fishing license sales go towards the conservation and protection of the state’s marine wildlife, as well as education about the its natural resources. So after your purchase, you can rest easy knowing that your money is being put towards a good cause.

Different Types of Fishing Licenses

Most residents and visitors of Alabama will have to purchase a fishing license. Whether you’re looking to go offshore fishing in the Gulf or hook freshwater game fish in the Tennessee River, you should know what species your license covers.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater Licenses

Freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses are the most basic licenses you can buy. Keep in mind there isn’t an individual license for fishing in brackish water, so if you plan on fishing somewhere where it’s possible to hook both fresh and saltwater fish, you’d probably be best off purchasing both types of licenses.

The last thing you want is an unexpected fine because you weren’t sure which species you’re allowed to catch. If you catch a fish that isn’t covered by your license, make sure you release it right away. For example, if you’re fishing with a saltwater license in an estuary, such as the Mobile Bay, and you accidentally hook a Black Bass, make sure you safely release it back into the wild.

An infographic of a map of the state of Alabama showing the types of fishing licenses needed

In addition, there are also the following annual licenses available:

  • Wildlife Heritage Licenses
  • Wirebasket Licenses
  • Spearfishing Licenses
  • Freshwater Commercial Fishing Licenses

A Wildlife Heritage License allows you to fish in specially protected waters under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. A Wirebasket License lets you fish non-game fish in public freshwaters.

A Spearfishing License gives you the opportunity to dive and recreationally or commercially target fish with a speargun in both fresh and saltwater. And a Freshwater Commercial Fishing License allows residents to use commercial fishing tackle to target and take home non-game fish in public waters.

What about special permits and tags?

There are no specific tags required for game fishing in Alabama, aside from a $61 tag for keeping, killing, or harvesting Tarpon. The funds are later used by Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to conduct research on Tarpon.

There are, however, size and bag limits in place for certain species. If you’re caught exceeding the daily limit, you could get charged with a misdemeanor and end up paying a fine. Below are 2 tables displaying some of the bag limits for freshwater and saltwater species:


Species Bag Limit (per person)
Black Bass
(includes Largemouth,
Smallmouth, Spotted,
Coosa, Warrior,
Cahaba, Tallapoosa,
and Chattahoochee)
White Bass
Yellow Bass
Striped Bass and Hybrids
Catfish (over 34″)
Rainbow Trout
Alligator Gar


Species Bag Limit (per person)
Spotted Seatrout
Gag Grouper
Red Snapper

For more information about bagging and size limits of freshwater and saltwater species, you can visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.

What about lifetime fishing licenses?

Finally, there are lifetime Alabama fishing licenses available to those most ardent anglers. Simply make a one-time purchase and you’re set for life. The only requirement is that you are a state resident with a driver’s license or non-driver’s ID. 

How and Where to Get a License

Getting a fishing license in Alabama is pretty easy. You can purchase one from any of the following local government offices:

  • Your county’s probate office
  • The license commissioner’s office
  • State park locations

You can also go to a certified retailer, such as the following:

  • Walmart
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Academy Sports
  • Ace Hardware
  • Any state-registered bait and tackle store

Or, the easiest option: buy your license online by going to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website. 

Make sure you have a valid form of ID, either a driver’s license or passport, and your social security number. If you’re eligible for a military discount, be sure to have your assignment paperwork with you, as well. As long as you have these documents, you shouldn’t have any issues obtaining your license.

Common Questions About AL Fishing Licenses

A dock with Tennessee river charter boats in Alabama.
  1. When does my license expire?

    This depends on the type of license you buy. All annual licenses are valid from the date of purchase until August 31. Seven-day licenses are valid for 168 consecutive hours from the time of purchase, 3-day licenses for 72 hours, and 1-day licenses for 24 hours.
    You can renew your license through Outdoor Alabama’s online portal, at any official retailer, probate office, or license state commissioner.

  2. What if I lose my fishing license?

    If your fishing license is lost or stolen, you’ll have to get it replaced in order to continue to fish legally. Like licensing renewals, you can order a replacement online, or at your local probate office or license state commissioner’s office. 
    Please note that if your fishing license has been voided, revoked, or suspended, it cannot be reprinted.

  3. What if I fish without a license?

    If you fish with no license in the state of Alabama, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and pay a fine of $10–$25 per offense. With that in mind, it’s best to avoid any legal issues and just get a license.

  4. Is my Alabama fishing license valid in any other state?

    Alabama has a reciprocal agreement with the state of Mississippi which allows licenses from either state to be recognized in the Tennessee River and its surrounding embayments where Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee meet. 
    There are no reciprocal agreements for fishing in the Gulf, however. You can legally fish with your AL fishing license up to the Mississippi state line or Grand Bay to the west, and the Florida state line or Perdido Bay to the east. As long as you stay within these boundaries, you have nothing to worry about it.

  5. Are there discounted licenses for non-disabled veterans?

    Sadly, no. Only disabled veterans who are also state residents can apply for discounted fishing licenses in Alabama.

  6. If Alabama resident seniors can fish for free, what is a $35.00 Lifetime Senior License?

    As we mentioned, resident seniors can fish for free in Alabama. However, those who want to support the state's Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries programs can make a voluntary one-time contribution and receive an embossed card-style lifetime license. All proceedings from these licenses go into the game and fish lifetime trust fund.

Now you’ve got all the information you need to hit the open waters for a fun day of fishing. Pack your stuff, find a guide near you, and get ready to explore Alabama’s vast freshwater and saltwater opportunities.

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